Monomyth – Down the Hill Festival 2021
At the end of August, in the small village of Rillaar, something wonderful happened. With the numbers of Covid going down, and the restrictions loosening up, the small DIY festival of Down The Hill could take place, with only a few basic safety rules, and no social distancing. Finally, a glimpse of hope to a return of the natural order of things, music, gigs, and happenings as we used to know it, and love it, before the shit hit the fan in Spring last year.
With Mrs. Rifffox, we took our tickets as soon as the omens seemed to align for this cool festival to happen and we managed to bring you back some bits of it. I did a few lives on our Facebook page that you might have seen back then, we’re working on a full report with pictures that will be published soon.
But we also got the opportunity to talk with two of our favorite bands of the line-up, Temple Fang, and Monomyth. So today we’re presenting you our interview of Sander Evens, drummer of Monomyth (and a couple of other kickass bands). You can check out the full video of it, or read the transcript right below. Check out also the nifty pictures from their gig that day, courtesy of Mrs. Rifffox. Enjoy!
Mr. Stone: Hello Sander, so, you are from Monomyth, and this weekend we are at Down The Hill in the north of Belgium for finally, a real festival again.
Sander Evers: Finally. Yes.
Mr. Stone: So how has it been for Monomyth for the last year and a half, couple of years, with the lockdown and everything?
Sander Evers: Well, let’s say it was a hard time. Because prior to the corona lockdown, we changed our bass player. So we did one gig with Jason, the new guy and then everything stopped. And in the first few months, there was no option to do a proper rehearsal. So we did a few, let’s say, creative things over the Internet, trying to make each other enthusiast about the new ideas.
But then we discovered that we were really a band that needs to be in the same room, interchanging ideas to get to proper music. But on the other hand, there were a few options for us that we could try, like live streams. So we had a few things that were still on the agenda. That kept us going. And in the meantime, we created a few new tracks, which we’re going to play tonight, actually.
Mr. Stone: And that’s tracks that you’ve been working on from a distance?
Sander Evers: No, no, no. Only when we were in the same room. But then again, we started working on things, and then we got another lockdown. So it was very frustrating. And at one point in time, I said to the guys, I don’t want to do three rehearsals and then quit, and then wait, and then start the whole thing again. So let’s take a break, and do what we like. And then we’ll see when we may get together again. So now this was a nice opportunity. And we have three gigs in a row this weekend. Yeah, actually four because tomorrow, we play two gigs. So it’s almost surreal.
Mr. Stone: And so when did you start to get together again? Like in a rehearsal room and prepare for that?
Sander Evers: For these shows? One week ago.
Mr. Stone: And so in all that time in between, you’ve been like, on and off again, in a kind of break?
Sander Evers: Yeah. Yeah. Some of us took some holidays too. And well, family stuff.
Mr. Stone: And so those new tracks you’ve been working on, when or how did that work?
Sander Evers: Those ideas were already there. We had those ideas recorded before. So when we got back in the rehearsal room, we brought it back in. And then we decided, we have three new things and two that are somewhat ready for the stage. So this is a good opportunity to try them out here.
Mr. Stone: Yeah, because I think that’s something I read in an interview you guys gave a few years ago in Berlin to another French blog. That the way you’re working as a band is that you’re really all working together, there’s not one guy bringing especially something for the others. It’s really everyone working together and especially expressing himself freely without any kind of filter to make the thing going forward.
Sander Evers: Yes. And you know, we try to react to an idea and then see where it ends. Basically, that way of working is still how we do that. Although we have new band members.
Mr. Stone: Yes indeed, because I think between that interview I read and now, you changed at least the guitar player and then the bass player. How has it been to make the lineup evolve, I guess with that way of working together, it went smooth, right?
Sander Evers: Yeah, well in a way. And you have to revisit your older tracks and see if they still work. Because a bass player and a guitar player are very important in the sound of the band. But no, it went smooth in a way. And I think that the way we work now is for most of it the same.
And although we have a new guitar player, he is very good at telling everyone what it’s all about, what happens, what’s happening in some ideas. He’s classical trained. So he knows how to tell you things. And the main thing that’s different in the songwriting process is it’s happening a bit faster now. In the early years, we had to figure out a lot of things. Now we know all the tricks. And that helps, that helps to balance out things even more.
Mr. Stone: Yeah. Because you’ve worked on three albums that were conceived as a trilogy. All interlinked with each other.
Sander Evers: Actually, the end of the last album from this trilogy starts with the same sound that is also starting the first one, so it’s an endless cycle.
Mr. Stone: Awesome! And so is Orbis Quadrantis, the beginning of a new trilogy, or more an album frozen in time?
Sander Evers: That trilogy was written while we were making it. That was not an idea we had in the first place, because we made the first record, and then Jurgen from Roadburn, and Burning World Records, who initially released our first album, said “so are you up for a trilogy?“. That triggered us “Oh, that’s maybe that’s a good idea. We’re gonna do that.“. But we also made Orbis Quadrantis, which is more a one-piece. Though the link with the water is still in the new tracks. But yeah, I don’t think we’re going to do a new trilogy.
Mr. Stone: At the same time, this must have been a bit frustrating? Because like, obviously, this was released in 2019. So you’ve not been able to really tour with it. How do you do that? Because usually when a band releases an album, they like to tour after it to show it to the world.
Sander Evers: Oh, yeah, yeah. But we did it. We did it with Orbis Quadrantis. But yes, there was a bit of a hassle around the release, because we wanted to release it in early 2019, I guess. And then our keyboard player had to do surgery. So the album was delayed.
All the shows were then delayed to September 2019. So we did a tour. And then in early January 2020, our bass player decided to quit the band. So we had to look for a new bass player. And make him familiar with all the music. And then we did one show only, and then the Corona came. So that was a bit frustrating yes. It’s kind of a lost album for us, because we did a few shows, but not the whole tour. Shit happens.
Mr. Stone: So right now you’re taking this drive again, as it was broken, and trying to make it evolve at the same time?
Sander Evers: What we’re doing now is see what we can do. Because we’re still not sure what is going to happen in the industry.
I’m also working as a sound technician. And, I got some of my work back in the next months, but if there is a mutation of the virus, it goes back into lockdown. So it’s a very uncertain thing.
Also, in the earlier stages of the band, I wanted to think 3, 4, 5 steps in advance, which I’m not doing at the moment. I see what comes to me or what comes to us, and then we react to it and see what we can do. That’s it.
Now we have these three songs. So I think we’re gonna do an EP and then release it.
Mr. Stone: Yeah, take it more as it goes for the time being.
Sander Evers: Yeah. Because it’s always so much work to set it all up. You know, the record company, the recording, the album covers, and then the whole organization that goes with setting up the tour, it’s a lot of work. And I don’t want to be again, in a situation where no, we can’t do it because COVID or whatever. So yeah, take it easy. And we’re still here. And we’re still doing our thing.
Mr. Stone: You’re trying to find a middle ground basically?
Sander Evers: Yeah. And when we see next year or further in the future, that it’s opening up really we will still be there.
Mr. Stone: Yes, I guess that’s how you also see the things about gigs starting again, as this weekend with Down The Hill.
Sander Evers: But this is very unique, because, in the Netherlands, there is nothing like this at the moment.
Mr. Stone: I’ve seen there are a few shows here and there in the Netherlands no?
Sander Evers: Yeah, but it’s always seated. We did a show yesterday in a huge venue, seated. Though it was a good show, it’s very strange to play to a theater audience. I like people moving around.
Mr. Stone: Yes, have some interactions.
Sander Evers: Yeah. And it’s very static. So it’s not the nicest thing to do on the stage.
Mr. Stone: And so you got some gigs lined up for the end of the year? Or some festivals coming up?
Sander Evers: No, no festivals. We still had a few things, because we should have played in 2020 at Burg Herzberg or Freak Valley. Those bookings are still valid, but you know, we don’t know when it will happen.
And we have a few gigs until the end of the year, which are also bookings that were rescheduled to fall earlier. Originally, it was a tour. All those gigs were a tour. And now it’s scattered.
Mr. Stone: Maybe some gigs in the Netherlands or Western Europe then?
Sander Evers: All in the Netherlands, yes. And the festivals that were happening in Germany, it’s all rescheduled to 2022.
Mr. Stone: I just have one last question for you. Is there any album or artist that especially got you hooked in the last few months, or the past year, that helped you to get through this mess?
Sander Evers: Well, I’m also producing electronic music, like techno, electro, Kraftwerk-like stuff. And, to be honest, I’m not that much listening to other music. Because every morning, I have a studio in my home. And every morning, I get a cup of coffee, and then we go into the studio and make a new track.
So what I listened to most of the time is other electronic stuff that’s made by a few friends of mine, who are also working from their homes. And we are exchanging music. Because it’s good to have a reference from someone else. So it’s mostly electro stuff from guys like Lloyd Stellar, Grammar Soul, Kraftwerk, or Laser Hawk, but not the one album in particular. Most of the time, I’m working on music.
Mr. Stone: Thanks a lot for your time and your answers. That’s been nice talk and I’m really, really, really looking forward to your show in a couple of hours.
Sander Evers: I think it’s almost time to get ready, looking forward to it. Thank you.
Mr. Stone: Thanks and see you soon!